TROUBLED SCHOOLS ON TRIAL: The MUST READ series by the CT Mirror

CT Mirror reporter Jacqueline Rabe has written a MUST READ series of seven stories about the controversies surrounding Connecticut’s public school system.

As her CT Mirror biography notes,

Rabe has won two first prizes from the national Education Writers Association for her work in 2012 – one in beat reporting for her overall education coverage, and the other, with Keith Phaneuf, in investigative reporting on a series of stories revealing questionable monetary and personnel actions taken by the Board of Regents for Higher Education. Before coming to The Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. She has also worked for Congressional Quarterly and the Toledo Free Press. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Jacqueline is in the public policy master’s program at Trinity College.

Here are links to Rabe’s recent series on education in Connecticut.

WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM (Part 1)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/07/troubled-schools-on-trial-when-poverty-perme…

THE BROKEN FORMULA FOR STATE SCHOOL AID (Part 2)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/08/troubled-schools-on-trial-a-broken-formula-f…

A BUILDING BOOM, PENSIONS LOCK IN BIG COSTS (Part 3)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/09/troubled-schools-on-trial-a-building-boom-pe…

WHO’S IN CHARGE? STATE VS. LOCAL CONTROL (Part 4)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/12/troubled-schools-on-trial-whos-in-charge-state-vs-local-control/

WHAT DOES A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA PROVE? (Part 5)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/13/troubled-schools-on-trial-what-does-a-high-s…

SPECIAL EDUCATION DRIVING COSTS AND CONTROVERSIES (Part 6)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/14/troubled-schools-on-trial-special-education-…

WILL A SCATHING COURT DECISION LEAD TO ACTION? (Part 7)
http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/15/troubled-schools-on-trial-will-a-scathing-co…

Truth From Fiction – The real story about CT School Funding (by Wendy Lecker)

A primer about Connecticut School Funding by Wendy Lecker

In September, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a controversial decision in Connecticut’s long-running school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell.  Judge Moukawsher set forth a very narrow vision of what is needed in public schools in order to provide an adequate education; a vision that contradicted precedent across the United States and precedent from the Connecticut Supreme Court itself.  He essentially ruled that the State need only provide the “bare minimum” of facilities, teachers and instrumentalities of learning, and labeled anything beyond these three narrow categories as “extras;” even though it is accepted that students, especially our neediest students, need much more than that in order to have the opportunity for an adequate education.

Judge Moukawsher did highlight the inequities in wealthy versus poor districts in Connecticut. However, he refused to recognize that the extra resources that districts with needy students require are part of a constitutionally adequate education. Thus, if allowed to stand, his decision would render it impossible to create an equitable school funding system in Connecticut- one that provided adequate resources to our neediest districts. His decision has been appealed by both the State and CCJEF, and will reach the Connecticut Supreme Court in the spring of 2017.

In the meantime, there have been calls for Connecticut to fix its school funding formula before the CCJEF appeal is heard. The loudest calls have been coming from the charter lobby, which wants to seize this opportunity not to create a more just school funding system, but rather to create a system that facilitates the diversion of public dollars intended for public schools to privately managed charter schools.

The charter lobby has usurped the language of equity to advance its cause. It claims that Connecticut needs a system that funds “all public schools the same” and provides the same funding to students “no matter which public school they attend.”  As discussed below, while charter schools are considered public schools, they are by no means the same as traditional, district public schools, and should not be funded at the same level. Any claims about funding “students not schools” or “all public schools equally” should raise alarm bells. These claims lay the groundwork for not only diverting state funding to charter schools, but also diverting local funding to charter schools that are not part of a local district.

In their effort to persuade the public to divert more public funds to privately managed charter schools, the charter lobby will often use questionable statistics. For example, they will compare the $11,000 state allocation to charters to the full amount, including state, local and federal dollars, a local school district spends per pupil on its students.  This false comparison will always make it appear as if charters are being shortchanged. Thus, one must view any charter funding claims with a healthy skepticism.

Successful school finance reform always begins with an assessment of how much education costs, and always entails an increase in funding for public schools.  It is rumored that an organization close to the charter lobby, The Connecticut School Finance Project, is working with Governor Malloy to revamp the school funding system.  Governor Malloy already has stated that this year will be a “lean” budget year. Therefore, it is suspicious that he would choose a year in which he essentially acknowledges he will not provide adequate funding to public schools to engage in school finance reform.  This move should signal that he is not interested in providing adequate resources to public schools, but rather intends to shift money away from public schools to other “choice” schools, such as charters.

Now more than ever it is essential that we all understand some basic principles for school funding in Connecticut.

Some Principles for Connecticut School Funding

The goal of a state school funding system is to ensure that school districts, no matter what the wealth of those districts is, have sufficient resources to provide all students, no matter what the students’ needs and circumstances are, an opportunity for an adequate education.

Resources Necessary for an Adequate Education

Courts in school funding cases across this country have developed a consistent “basket of goods” that are necessary to provide all students the opportunity for an adequate education, including:

  • Reasonable class size;
  • Sufficient number of teachers, administrators and other personnel who are adequately trained and qualified;
  • An expanded platform of services for at-risk students (this usually means additional academic and social supports, including extra learning time, to enable at-risk children to access the same educational opportunities. It can include preK, as preK gives at-risk students additional time to catch up. There are those who advocate universal prek- i.e. prek as its own essential resource. That is a viable approach, although viewing prek as an at-risk intervention may be easier for courts and legislatures to accept)
  • Sufficient resources for children with extraordinary needs;
  • Up-to-date broad curriculum;
  • Adequate facilities;
  • Adequate instrumentalities of learning (books, textbooks, computers, supplies, etc);
  • Safe and orderly environment.

The goal in a state funding system, therefore, is to ensure that all districts are able to provide these essential resources to their students. In order to do so, the state must assess the cost of providing these programs, staff and services, and devise a fair manner in which to allocate funding (state/local share) for these resources.

Note:  In the CCJEF trial court decision, now on appeal, Judge Moukawsher, in contrast to all precedents across the country, limited the notion of adequacy to comprise only sufficient teachers, facilities and instrumentalities of learning- and he said the state is already providing adequate funding.  He called interventions for at-risk students “extras.” Thus, pursuant to his vision, it would be impossible to construct a funding system that is adequate or equitable.

State Funding Formula:

Many states, including Connecticut, adopt a “foundation” formula.  Most simply, a foundation formula establishes a “foundation amount,” which is supposed to represent the cost of educating a student with no additional or special needs.  The foundation amount is then adjusted to reflect the number of students in a district, and the needs of the students in those districts.  Often the foundation amount is also adjusted to reflect regional costs of education.  Once the amount for a district is calculated, the state must have a mechanism to determine the state share and the local share of paying for this amount.  That mechanism should take into consideration the municipality’s ability to raise revenue, thus the property wealth and income wealth of a municipality.

Foundation Amount:

The accepted method for determining the cost of education is to conduct an education cost study, which would essentially cost out the resources necessary to provide an education that would meet some agreed upon standard.  CCJEF conducted one in 2005, using a nationally known firm, APA.  There are several methodologies for conducting cost studies and many cost studies now use more than one (eg successful school and professional judgment) in order to assure accuracy.  It is essential that whoever conducts this cost study is recognized as an education finance expert and uses and accepted methodology.  These studies can be skewed to suit a political end.

The ECS formula has a foundation amount.  However, the Foundation Amount was never based on the actual cost of education (no cost study was ever done to determine the cost of education- the amount was based on existing spending at the time). Thus, the foundation amount in the ECS formula never represented the true cost of education.

Student Need:

Education cost studies have shown that it costs more to educate certain children than others.  Different children have needs that require additional services that cost money, therefore it costs more to provide them the same educational opportunity as it would children with no additional needs.

Poverty:  Costs studies have shown that it can cost up to twice as much to educate a child living in poverty (social supports, additional learning time, etc). Children who live in deeper poverty (eg, free vs. reduced price lunch) have additional needs that may increase the cost of educating them.  In districts with more concentrated poverty, the costs increase.  Thus, a weighting for poverty must account accurately for the existence of poverty, the intensity of that poverty and the concentration of poverty.  (Criticism of free and reduced price lunch is that it may be inaccurate and it is self–reported. Often students in secondary school do not identify as eligible for FRPL, so the poverty count is artificially lowered).  It is essential not to rely on national estimates or other measures that may not accurately reflect the facts on the ground.

The ECS formula never based its poverty weighting on the actual cost of educating children living in poverty.

English Language Learners (ELL): Costs studies have also shown that it can cost up to twice as much to educate an ELL student as a student with no additional needs.  ELL services are distinct from services provided to children living in poverty, so these weights are NOT interchangeable.

The ELL weight in the ECS formula was never based on cost. Moreover, in 2013, upon the urging of ConnCAN, the legislature completely removed ELL as a weight in the ECS formula.

Students with Disabilities:  It can cost up to four times as much to education a child with disabilities.

The ECS formula never included a weight for students with disabilities.

Regional Cost of Education

Formulas do adjust for the regional cost of education, using several possible methodologies.

State/Local Share: 

In order to accurately assess these shares, the state must have an accurate and reliable and up-to-date measure of a municipality’s property and income wealth.

The ECS measure of a municipality’s local share has been improperly skewed toward property wealth.

Any state school funding system must ensure adequate resources, equitably allocated to school districts.  Moreover, it must provide a predictable and stable source of funding. It is perfectly reasonable to use the framework of the ECS but assure that it is based on the actual cost of educating students with all types of needs, and that it accurately apportions the state and local share.

Why the state funding system should not be “student based”

Over the years, there has been a proposal to institute “student based” funding (called weighted student funding, money follows the child, among other names), in which funding gets assigned to the student no matter what school she attends.  This proposal is often pushed under the guise of equity but really is a mechanism to facilitate funding intended for district schools to go to charter schools.  These proponents claim that it is only fair for all “public schools” to get the same amount.

What this system would do would be to take the ostensible cost of educating a child, including both state and local allocation, and say each child should get this amount no matter which school they attend.  So if the state allocation does not cover the cost, the district in which that school is located would have to pay the rest of that amount.  This would mean, in the case of charter schools, that local districts would have to pay a local contribution for each student attending.  As charters expand, more and more money would be drained directly from local budgets.

There are different types of schools that Connecticut calls “public.”  However, they are not all the same. Charter schools in particular are not at all like district public schools.  They are exempt from many of the regulations and requirements to which district public schools are subject.  They do not need to serve all grade spans, provide all programs, serve all children in a district, etc.  In addition to the sanctioned exemptions, charters in Connecticut often underserve the neediest (ELL, students with disabilities, free lunch) and most expensive students. In addition, charters have always been envisioned as transitory, and if there is proper oversight, their charters can be revoked.  For these and other reasons, courts across the country have rejected claims by charters to obtain an equal level of funding as district public schools.

The State has an obligation to students to provide an adequate education (charters have no constitutional right to an education- children do). As long as a child can attend an adequately funded school in her district, that obligation is satisfied. There is no right for students to choose the “flavor” of school they get. There is no right to have two parallel school systems, public and charter.  In fact, diverting money from a school system that must serve all students (district public schools) to one that need only serve the few undermines the state’s goal and obligation to have a fully funded school system that serves the needs of all students.

In fact, the Connecticut Attorney General has declared recently in a pending federal suit (where charter advocates are attempting to lift any cap on charter expansion) that Connecticut’s district public school system is the vehicle that the legislature has chosen to fulfill the State’s constitutional obligation to provide each child with an adequate education.  The Attorney General pointed out that magnets and charters are “purely statutory vehicles that the General Assembly thus far has authorized and funded as a matter of public policy, and that the General Assembly could discontinue at any time if it were so inclined.” Thus, district public schools fulfill Connecticut’s constitutional obligations, while magnets and charters are voluntary, transitory, purely statutory creations.

Moreover, the Connecticut Attorney General has acknowledged in these same court papers that to fund a system of magnet and charters would be more expensive than providing adequate support to the existing traditional public school system.  Connecticut should, to use the words of the Attorney General, “be devoting the State’s limited resources to improving those schools, as opposed to creating and fully funding a new and more expensive system that is based on charter and magnet schools.”

Judge botched rulings on education policy by Wendy Lecker

Education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker returns to the recent CCJEF v. Rell legal decision in her weekend piece in the Stamford Advocate.  You can read and comment on her piece at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Judge-botched-rulings-on-education-9945947.php

Judge botched rulings on education policy by Wendy Lecker

In issuing his decision in the CCJEF school-funding case last month, Judge Thomas Moukawsher claimed he was faithfully following the dictates of the Connecticut Supreme Court. However, it is clear that the judge ignored a major warning by our highest court: that the judiciary is “ill-equipped” to deal with educational policy matters. Nowhere is this disregard of the court’s warning more evident than in Moukawsher’s rulings on high school and teacher evaluation. In these rulings, the judge contravened the mountain of academic and experiential evidence showing that what he proposes is dead wrong.

First, the judge declared that Connecticut should institute standardized high school exit exams. The judge decided that because Connecticut does not have “rational” and “verifiable” high school standards, meaning standards measured by a high school exit exam, Connecticut diplomas for students in poor districts are “patronizing and illusory.” He concluded that the cure for this problem is standardized, “objective” exams that students must pass to graduate.

In pushing this proposal, the judge relied heavily on one defense witness, Dr. Eric Hanushek, a witness whose testimony has been flatly rejected in school funding cases across the country. Hanushek claimed that Massachusetts’ status as the “education leader” in the country was a result of instituting an exit exam.

Had the judge examined the evidence, however, he would have discovered that Massachusetts’ high school exit exam has increased dropout rates for the state’s most vulnerable students. In fact, as the New America Foundation reported, decades of research on exit exams nationwide show two things: students are not any better off with exit exams, and exit exams have a disproportionately negative impact on the graduation rates of poor students and students of color. That is why the trend among states is to drop exit exams. Exit exams would widen the graduation gap in Connecticut.

Again, had the judge examined the evidence, he would have also learned that the actual major factor in Massachusetts’ improvement was the very measure he refused to order Connecticut to implement: school finance reform that dramatically increased the amount of school funding statewide. No fewer than three studies have shown that increasing school funding significantly improved student achievement in Massachusetts. Recent major studies confirmed those findings nationwide, demonstrating that school finance reform has the most profound positive impact among poor students.

The judge also missed the mark by a wide margin in his ruling on teacher evaluations; which again he insisted be “rational and “verifiable” from his unstudied perspective. Anyone who has been paying attention to education matters the past few years has surely noticed the understandable uproar over the attempt to rate teachers based on student standardized test score “growth.”

Experts across the country confirm, as the American Statistical Association pointed out, that a teacher has a tiny effect on the variance in student test scores: from 1 percent to 14 percent. Thus, it is now widely understood that any system that attempts to rate teachers on student test scores, or the “growth” in student test scores, is about as “rational” and “verifiable” as a coin toss.

Courts that have actually examined the evidence on systems that rate teachers on student test scores have rejected these systems. Last year, a court in New Mexico issued a temporary injunction barring the use of test scores in that state’s teacher evaluation system. And in April, a court in New York ruled that a teacher’s rating based on her students’ “growth” scores — the foundation of New York’s teacher evaluation system — was “arbitrary and capricious;” the opposite of “rational” and “verifiable.”

Yet despite the reams of evidence debunking the use of student growth scores in evaluating teachers, and despite these two court rulings, Judge Moukawsher insisted that rating teachers on student “growth” scores would satisfy his demand that Connecticut’s system for hiring, firing, evaluating and compensating teachers be “rational” and “verifiable.” His ruling defies the evidence and logic.

These and all of the judge’s other rulings are now being appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court by both sides: the state and the CCJEF plaintiffs. One can only hope that that our highest court will steer this case back on course, away from these ill-advised educational policy rulings and toward a proper finding that the state is failing to provide our poorest schools with adequate funding and is consequently failing to safeguard the educational rights of our most vulnerable children.

Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.  Her column  can be found at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Judge-botched-rulings-on-education-9945947.php

More about the extremely disappointing CCJEF v. Rell ruling by Wendy Lecker

The mass media was quick to fixate on the one “positive” element of the recent CCJEF v. Rell school funding lawsuit ruling, missing the many series problems associated with decision.

In her first piece, Problems with the CCJEF Decision – Will equity without adequacy be enough to help Connecticut’s neediest children?, education advocate and Hearst Media Group columnist Wendy Lecker looked at the school finance portion of the judge’s action.  Here, in Demanding more in elementary schools, she looks at some of the education policy elements of the ruling.

This piece first appeared in the Stamford Advocate.  You can read and comment on the original at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Demanding-more-in-elementary-schools-9242568.php

More about the extremely disappointing CCJEF v. Rell ruling by Wendy Lecker

As noted in my previous column, CCJEF trial judge Thomas Moukawsher refused to order the state to ensure adequate resources in schools, though determining constitutional adequacy was his responsibility. By contrast, the judge freely issued sweeping directives regarding educational policy.

The judge issued far-reaching orders involving elementary and high school education and teacher evaluations. He also aired abhorrent views toward children with disabilities, which several commentators already addressed.

This column addresses his orders regarding elementary education. I will address the others in subsequent columns.

Moukawsher observed that the educational disparities in secondary school begin in elementary school. (He actually acknowledged that they begin before elementary school, but declined to rule that preschool is essential.)

Moukawsher’s “fix” for elementary school was to order the state to define elementary education as being “primarily related to developing basic literacy and numeracy skills needed for secondary school.”

Most of us understand that to thrive in secondary school, children must develop skills beyond basic numeracy and literacy. From an early age, children must develop the ability to think critically, creatively and independently.

There is no real division among brain functions — cognitive, social and motor — so they all must be developed in concert. As neuroscientist Adele Diamond observed, “a human being is not just an intellect or just a body … we ignore any of those dimensions at our peril in … educating children.”

However, Moukawsher ruled that elementary school should concern itself with basic literacy and numeracy skills. Moreover, he demanded that this definition have “force,” “substantial consequences” and be “verifiable” — code for high-stakes statewide standardized elementary school exit exams.

The judge’s myopic focus was emphasized by his suggestion for giving the required definition “force.” He declared that the state definition “might gain some heft, for example, if the rest of school stopped for students who leave third grade without basic literacy skills. School for them might be focused solely on acquiring those skills. Eighth-grade testing would have to show they have acquired those skills before they move on to secondary school. This would give the schools four school years to fix the problem for most children.”

Many children who do not score well on standardized tests are poor and experience stress in their lives that inhibits learning. Others are just learning English. Others have disabilities. Any lag in reading does not mean a child cannot think at grade level or beyond. Moreover, many low-income children have limited exposure to the wide variety of experiences their more affluent peers enjoy. Yet Moukawsher’s prescription for “fixing” them is to limit their education to reading instruction. No art, music, physical education, social studies, science, drama, or field trips. This “solution” will leave our neediest children further behind developmentally.

Moukawsher’s proposal not only threatens to hinder development for our neediest children. It is not even an effective way to teach reading.

As Wheelock College’s Diane Levin explains, children cannot learn to read in a vacuum. The more children can make associations between words and their experiences, the better readers they become. Exposure to wide-ranging subjects and activities is part of learning to read. It is especially crucial for disadvantaged children, who may have limited life experiences outside school.

Moreover, learning to read requires engagement. Children must see the value of reading and writing in helping them get better at something that they like to do.

The Kansas Supreme Court understood this concept when it ordered that Kansas must ensure a host of programs as part of a constitutionally adequate education. The court recognized that “modern schools … have sought to aid students whose individual circumstances … diminish their ability to learn. Some examples … are programs providing breakfast or lunch, pre-school or after school programs, all day kindergarten, field trips, or even theater, band, or athletic endeavors, all which broaden one’s base of association such that it may spark inquiry, acceptance, or, otherwise, give purpose to the pursuit of an education.”

What type of education is necessary for Connecticut’s children? Should we merely try pouring words into their heads? Or should we heed what modern science reveals about how children learn and ensure that every child, not matter what her circumstance, has the opportunity to learn basic and complex skills, so that she can develop into a responsible citizen?

Judge Moukawsher opted for the former, constricted view — one that experts know fails to accomplish even his meager goals.

Connecticut must demand better than that if we want to achieve the equal educational opportunities our constitution demands.

 

Breaking News – State Supreme Court says it will review school funding case

From the CT Mirror:

The state Supreme Court will hear an expedited appeal of a lower court’s conclusion that the way the state distributes education aid and oversees local schools is unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers accepted petitions by Attorney General George Jepsen and the lawyers for the plaintiffs for a direct review by the Supreme Court of different aspects of the decision by Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher.

For more see:

CTMirror: http://ctmirror.org/2016/09/20/state-supreme-court-says-it-will-review-school-funding-case/

Courant: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-ccjef-supreme-court-appeal-0920-20160920-story.html

Dan Klau: https://appealinglybrief.com/2016/09/20/supreme-court-grants-petition-to-review-education-ruling/

Special Ed. Irony: CT Gov. Malloy and Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher by Nancy Bailey

Nancy Bailey is an educator, author, expert on children with emotional and behavioral disabilities and autism and a fellow education blogger.  In her latest commentary piece, Special Ed. Irony: CT Gov. Malloy and Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, she explores the recent controversial school funding decision in Connecticut.

Nancy Bailey writes;

In every state we see an erasing of services for students with disabilities. Consider how Texas managed to omit an appropriate education for students with special needs My guess is that in whatever state you live, special education is in trouble.

How many children will not get the schooling they need to realize their dreams? How many parents will not get the support required to assist their children the best way possible?

In Connecticut, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher has ruled in a decades old school funding case, and while he recognized problems that exist when it comes to school funding and poverty, he slammed public schools badly. The expected changes to schooling and for teachers is worrisome.

But the Judge’s statement about instruction of the profoundly disabled was especially egregious. His statement calling the funding of special education “irrational,” should raise concerns for everyone.

In discussing Connecticut, not long after I started tweeting (Twitter is still a bit of a mystery to me), CT Gov. Dannel P. Malloy started following me on Twitter. He is seen as a school reformer. He supports charter schools and other troubling reforms in that state. Here, Judge Moukawsher’s decision is discussed with Gov. Malloy’s input.

I am sorry the Governor is not a bigger proponent of public schools and professional teachers. And I still don’t know why he followed me on Twitter–maybe because I write about special ed. issues–maybe it was a mistake. But I did learn some interesting things about the Governor.

Gov. Malloy has spoken and written poignantly about the difficulties he faced as a child and how he overcame dyslexia. He still uses all kinds of adaptations to adjust in his work. It is inspirational to read about the challenges he overcame to be successful.

Also, while Gov. Malloy may support a lot of troubling school reforms, the State of Connecticut seems to have looked out for its special needs school population and early childhood education. He has attempted to fairly fund special education in that state. For this he should receive credit. Although, some argue more funding is required.

But I wonder how, in such a state with such a governor, can Judge Moukawsher say what he did about special education. One would think because of Gov. Malloy, all of Connecticut’s citizens would stand in unanimous support and champion the needs of its special needs population.

Here is what Judge Moukawsher said about special education. It comes from Jonathan Pelto’s blog (more can be found elsewhere too–see below). Jonathan is a champion for students in Connecticut (and the country) and is running as a Green Party candidate for Congress. He also notes that Connecticut has done pretty well when it comes to special ed.

Here are the words of Judge Moukawsher.

Yet school officials never consider the possibility that the education appropriate for some students may be extremely limited because they are too profoundly disabled to get any benefit from an elementary or secondary school education….It is about whether schools can decide in an education plan for a covered child that the child has a minimal or no chance for education, and therefore the school should not make expensive, extensive, and ultimately pro-forma efforts..

That statement is appalling!

At this point in time, no one should have to argue that schooling is important for all children. Americans should realize that, after years of legislation and special education advocacy, every child no matter the disability, can learn and deserves the right to a free public education!

I’d like to sit down with the Judge and describe the two years I spent teaching students with profound disabilities. It was there I learned the power of public schooling for everyone.

It doesn’t matter what level a child might be at when a teacher meets them. With appropriate understanding, every child can learn new skills which will help them lead a quality life. Schooling is critical for a child with profound disabilities.

I’d like to remind the Judge that by teaching children with profound disabilities they can usually live at home with their families, where they are not only treated like first class citizens—which they are—but where they are thoroughly enjoyed and loved as family members.

The Judge might visit these families who treasure their children for the beauty found within. Parents and siblings often adapt to different life, but they can find greater meaning than most people will ever know.

The Judge should ask how living could be made easier for these children and their families through great public schooling. Anything less is un-American.

Judge Moukawsher’s words are especially dangerous, because when you start judging who is and who is not fit to receive education services, sooner or later other disability groups will be pushed out too. Before you know it, students with dyslexia and reading problems will be denied schooling. And you never know what futures will be obliterated—maybe someone who could have one day become a Governor.

_______________________

Here are additional links concerning this important decision. I may add more.

Altimari, Daniela. “Superior Court Judge Raises Profile With Divisive Education Reform Ruling.” Hartford Courant. Sept. 19,2016. HERE.

Reid, Macklin. “Superior Court Judge Raises Profile With Divisive Education Reform Ruling.” Hartford Courant. Sept. 19, 2016. HERE.

To read and comment on Nancy Bailey’s complete article go to: http://nancyebailey.com/2016/09/20/special-ed-irony-ct-gov-malloy-and-judge-thomas-g-moukawsher/

Here are some additional links to media coverage of the case;

CCJEF V. RELL MEDIA COVERAGE

CT Mirror

9/7/16 – Judge strikes down state education aid choices as ‘irrational’

9/7/16 – Ruling may end ‘hold harmless’ principle in CT budget politics

9/12/16 – For David Rosen, 11 years in court just a beginning in school case (New Haven Independent)

9/13/16 – Malloy, a plaintiff and then a defendant, hedges on school appeal

9/15/16 Jepsen files appeal, says Moukawsher school ruling ‘legally unsupported’

Hartford Courant

9/7/16 – Court Orders Far-Reaching Reforms for Public Schools and   CCJEF Ruling Press Conference

9/8/16 – Legislature Must Draft A New Deal For CT Education

9/9/16 – Lawmakers Scramble To Craft Response To Judge’s Education Ruling

9/15/16 State Appeals Controversial Education Overhaul Decision

CT Newsjunkie

9/7/16 Judge Orders State To Make Sweeping Changes To Education Funding, Policies

9/15/16 State Appeals Education Ruling to Supreme Court

Stamford Advocate

9/11/16 – Wendy Lecker: Will equity without adequacy be enough to help Connecticut’s neediest children?

Connecticut Post

9/7/16 Judge says state’s school funding formula is irrational

9/9/16 –After ruling on school finding, officials ponder next step

9/15/16 – State to appeal decision on school funding

New York Times

9/7/16 Judge, Citing Inequality, Orders Connecticut to Overhaul Its School System

9/11/16 – In Connecticut, a Wealth Gap Divides Neighboring Schools

9/12/16 – A Holistic Ruling on Broken Schools

Links to the actual decision

Hartford Courant – http://www.courant.com/education/hc-read-ccjef-v-rell-20160907-htmlstory.html

CT Mirror – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3100630-School-Funding-Decision.html

Judicial Department – http://jud.ct.gov/CCJEFvRell.pdf

 

Related Statements:

CEA CEA Leaders Respond to CCJEF v. Rell Decision

AFT – Comments on Court Decision in Historic State Education Funding Case

CCM – CCM INITIAL STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO SUPERIOR COURT DECISION IN CCJEF V. RELL SCHOOL-FUNDING DECISION

Educators 4 Excellence – Educators 4 Excellence-Connecticut reacts to ruling of CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit

ConnCAN – CONNCAN ISSUES STATEMENT IN CCJEF COURT CASE

 

Commentary pieces:

Education Ruling: OK To Shut Out Disabled Kids?

Tell state officials: Don’t appeal CCJEF ruling

Did one Connecticut judge just change the conversation about education inequality?

The Aftermath Of The CCJEF Ruling: What Is Next For Public Education In Connecticut?

Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul

In Perplexing Decision, Connecticut Judge Fails to Raise the Bar for Adequate School Funding

 

A MUST READ – Kevin Rennie: Judge Decides Disabled Kids Not Worth Teaching

Hartford Courant columnist, blogger, lawyer and former legislator, Kevin Rennie, has a MUST READ commentary piece in the Hartford Courant today about Judge Moukawsher’s outrageous and mean-spirited attack on Connecticut children who require special education services.

Reposted below, you can read and comment on Kevin Rennie’s piece at:   http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-rennie-ct-school-moukawsher-disabled-0918-20160915-column.html

Kevin Rennie writes;

Compassion has been declared unconstitutional by a Superior Court judge. Our leaders refuse to condemn his brutal assault on those with disabilities. Delusions rule as Connecticut enters an age of shame.

Thomas Moukawsher, a judge, Malloy appointee and former Democratic organization foot soldier, read his meandering, sloppy decision on public school funding on Sept. 7. Then, otherwise comprehending people seemed not to understand what they had heard. The plaintiffs, a coalition of municipalities and education organizations, had sued for billions in new state spending but did not get it. They nevertheless declared victory.

Disclosure: I knew Moukawsher well when he was a banking lobbyist, during his one term in the legislature and for several years after that. I have not spoken to him in nearly 20 years.

The organizations in the coalition have maintained an indecent silence on what the decision says about providing an education for 15 percent to 17 percent of public school students with special needs. The reader will struggle to find an island of thought in the decision’s sea of bilge, but there is one on the subject of people with disabilities: It is irrational and unconstitutional, Moukawsher declaimed from the bench, to continue to provide an eduction for many of them.

The 20th century taught us that when societies turn on people with disabilities, they often do not stop there. They inflict misery on others and everlasting shame on themselves. Connecticut must not join them in the darkness.

If you want to know what an attack on freedom under the rule of law looks like, peruse the education funding decision. Special education was not an issue the plaintiffs raised. The attorney general, defending the state, warned Moukawsher off the issue in a trial brief, but to no avail. Children with disabilities were in his sights and he fired away. Children with more than one disability receive particularly cruel attention.

Schools under this misbegotten decision will have no obligation to educate children with disabilities they deem to have “a minimal or no chance for education.” This insidious missile cannot go unanswered in the Constitution State. There are no specifics on how or which children with special needs are to be denied access to our schools. What we do know is that a judge with a dark, Trumpian view of humanity is abusing his authority and inviting broad violation of federal protections.

Harry Truman explained America’s greatness in a sentence: “We believe in the dignity of man.” Not in Connecticut if this social Darwinian decision is allowed to stand. Consider the implications. The law requires us to educate children who arrived here illegally. Most of us have no quarrel with that. Do we want, however, to live in a state where illegal immigrants are welcomed to our schools but the disabled are barred at the door?

The heroic Helen Keller observed, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” That describes the Moukawsher decision. I mention Helen Keller because, when she was 19 months old, she lost her hearing and sight to what was probably meningitis. A teacher, Anne Sullivan, led Miss Keller out of the darkness with their unique system of spelling words with their hands.

Helen Keller with her multiple disabilities went on to graduate from Radcliffe College. Through her writing, advocacy and love of humanity, Miss Keller became one of the world’s most admired people. Our own Mark Twain, one of her most devoted admirers, said, “She is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare and the rest of the immortals.”

There would be no place for Helen Keller in Moukawsher’s Connecticut, other than in the shadows of isolation. The court opinion misses an essential benefit of special education that is bestowed on the other students. Their contact with students with disabilities provides daily lessons in Harry Truman’s dignity of man. Lessons that last a lifetime and lift our society.

It should not be too much to expect a judge to understand that. But Moukawsher’s poisonous elitism reveals him as bent on banishing thousands of disabled from our public education system and consigning them to undisclosed, likely isolated, locations. Is this anyone’s, other than one judge’s, idea of what 21st-century Connecticut should be?

Connecticut Attorney General Jepsen to appeal CCJEF v. Rell ruling

Claiming that the State of Connecticut “far exceeds” what it needs to spend on public education, Attorney General George Jepsen announced today that he will appeal the recent court decision in the CCJEF v. Rell school funding lawsuit.

While Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled Connecticut’s school funding program was irrational and unconstitutional, the judge went far afield of the actual case, using his decision to condemn Connecticut’s teachers and public schools and promoting his own version of a corporate education reform agenda.

An appeal will mean Connecticut’s Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on the ruling and confirm whether Connecticut’s elected officials must finally address Connecticut’s broken school funding formula.

The following is Attorney General Jepsen’s statement;

Statement from AG Jepsen on Next Steps in CCJEF v. Rell

Attorney General George Jepsen today issued the following statement to announce that the state will seek a direct appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court of the ruling issued by the Superior Court last week in the case of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell:

“Under our system of government, state education policy is determined by the Legislative and Executive Branches and implemented under a strong tradition of local control by municipal school boards and, ultimately, teachers. This decision would wrest educational policy from the representative branches of state government, limit public education for some students with special needs, create additional municipal mandates concerning graduation and other standards, and alter the basic terms of educators’ employment – and entrust all of those matters to the discretion of a single, unelected judge.

“For the public and legislators to trust the legitimacy of such a dramatically new system and the policies it produces, they must know that the ruling mandating it is legally correct. There are strong arguments that the trial court exceeded its authority and the standards articulated by the Connecticut Supreme Court, and so today we are asking that court to review this ruling.

“Despite its order, the trial court correctly determined that the state far exceeds its minimum constitutional obligations for providing equitable access to adequate education. Nevertheless, the ruling identified profound educational challenges that remain and must continue to receive serious and sustained attention – and action – at every level of government. Nothing about this appeal prevents policymakers from immediately addressing those challenges, and I urge them to do so without delay.”

More about this development and previous media coverage via links below:

CCJEF V. RELL MEDIA COVERAGE

CT Mirror

9/7/16 – Judge strikes down state education aid choices as ‘irrational’

9/7/16 – Ruling may end ‘hold harmless’ principle in CT budget politics

9/12/16 – For David Rosen, 11 years in court just a beginning in school case (New Haven Independent)

9/13/16 – Malloy, a plaintiff and then a defendant, hedges on school appeal

9/15/16 Jepsen files appeal, says Moukawsher school ruling ‘legally unsupported’

Hartford Courant

9/7/16 – Court Orders Far-Reaching Reforms for Public Schools and   CCJEF Ruling Press Conference

9/8/16 – Legislature Must Draft A New Deal For CT Education

9/9/16 – Lawmakers Scramble To Craft Response To Judge’s Education Ruling

9/15/16 State Appeals Controversial Education Overhaul Decision

CT Newsjunkie

9/7/16 Judge Orders State To Make Sweeping Changes To Education Funding, Policies

9/15/16 State Appeals Education Ruling to Supreme Court

Stamford Advocate

9/11/16 – Wendy Lecker: Will equity without adequacy be enough to help Connecticut’s neediest children?

Connecticut Post

9/7/16 Judge says state’s school funding formula is irrational

9/9/16 –After ruling on school finding, officials ponder next step

9/15/16 – State to appeal decision on school funding

New York Times

9/7/16 Judge, Citing Inequality, Orders Connecticut to Overhaul Its School System

9/11/16 – In Connecticut, a Wealth Gap Divides Neighboring Schools

9/12/16 – A Holistic Ruling on Broken Schools

Links to the actual decision

Hartford Courant – http://www.courant.com/education/hc-read-ccjef-v-rell-20160907-htmlstory.html

CT Mirror – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3100630-School-Funding-Decision.html

Judicial Department – http://jud.ct.gov/CCJEFvRell.pdf

 

Related Statements:

CEA CEA Leaders Respond to CCJEF v. Rell Decision

AFT – Comments on Court Decision in Historic State Education Funding Case

CCM – CCM INITIAL STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO SUPERIOR COURT DECISION IN CCJEF V. RELL SCHOOL-FUNDING DECISION

Educators 4 Excellence – Educators 4 Excellence-Connecticut reacts to ruling of CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit

ConnCAN – CONNCAN ISSUES STATEMENT IN CCJEF COURT CASE

 

Commentary pieces:

Education Ruling: OK To Shut Out Disabled Kids?

Tell state officials: Don’t appeal CCJEF ruling

Did one Connecticut judge just change the conversation about education inequality?

The Aftermath Of The CCJEF Ruling: What Is Next For Public Education In Connecticut?

Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul

In Perplexing Decision, Connecticut Judge Fails to Raise the Bar for Adequate School Funding

Connecticut educator’s open letter concerning Judge Moukawsher’s recent ruling

Randall Smith is a social studies teacher and debate coach at Joel Barlow High School.  The following is his open letter to Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher in response to his recent ruling in the CCJEF V. Rell lawsuit;

As a teacher in his sixteenth year in education, I wish to offer Judge Thomas Moukawsher both praise and some advice in response to his recent landmark ruling.

On the issue of funding, I applaud him for holding our collective feet to the fire to come up with a cost-sharing formula that is fair to disadvantaged communities. His laser-like focus on abolishing achievement gaps echoes Brown v. Board of Ed., which challenged Topeka and the entire country to make good on the Constitution’s promise to give all Americans “equal protection of the laws.” The fact that it has been decades since Sheff v. O’Neill was handed down and so little progress has been made toward ending disparities in resources is indisputably disgraceful.

But despite the best of intentions, in an overly-broad ruling Judge Moukawsher has also prescribed some other remedies that I believe would lead us to repeat past mistakes at great cost to many. I respectfully ask the Judge and state leaders to seek policies that are not just rational, but ones proven to actually work in practice. Borrowing a phrase from another judge, I argue further that many of his demands “are decided upon an economic theory” which a large part of education research does not entertain.

In just about every area of education policy Judge Moukawsher asks us “to get rid of an irrational policy and adopt a rational one.” This is a loaded phrase with a long history in American law. It originates in the 1819 case, McCulloch v. Maryland where the Supreme Court mandated that for a law to deemed Constitutional, the government has to prove that it can achieve “legitimate end.” This principle has been applied to just about every area of law, demanding that government show “a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose.”

In his ruling Judge Moukawsher echoes this phrase, stating “a rational education plan has a substantial link between educating students and the means used to do it.” I invite the judge and all lawmakers to practice what he preaches, to look to see if there is a proven link between the policies he favors and their real-world effectiveness. But just a quick look at the recent history of educational reform reveals a huge gap between conventional wisdom and the facts.

The judge laments the fact that “Connecticut has no state standard with any teeth for student to pass from elementary to secondary school.” Presumably he means that a policy with bite would be some sort of high-stakes testing regime including various sticks and carrots to induce students and teachers to perform. But we don’t have to look very far back to see that this doesn’t work in practice.

We have seen this movie before, and spoiler alert, it ends badly. In 2001 an unlikely coalition of the liberal lion Ted Kennedy and the compassionate conservative George W. Bush, united by a shared disgust for achievement gaps, pushed through a law that linked federal funding to test scores at every level. It seemed like a common sense approach to align the incentives of schools with student achievement. But a decade later the effort earned poor marks. A comprehensive 2013 Stamford study of the No Child Left Behind Act concluded that the law had no impact on achievement gaps. Sure, NCLB seemed like a rational policy at the time, but in the end it was a national experiment that proved that tests with teeth fail to deliver the promise of social justice.

Judge Moukawsher also takes the state to task for graduation requirements that results in “diplomas without the education we promise them.” We all cringe at the ease that late-night comics have in exposing public ignorance, so I sympathize with the sentiment, but I do not think the answer lies in high-stakes exit exams.

If that were the answer, why do states with a long histories of high-stakes graduation tests have any achievement gaps? No state has a longer history of testing than New York with its famous Regents Examinations, but since 1990, Connecticut’s achievement gap is narrowing at the basically the same rate as New York’s. And by some measures we are doing even better than the Empire State. Consider outcomes for high school students with limited language proficiency. New York had a 33 point achievement gap with this population in 2011 while Connecticut’s was a full 10 points smaller.

To be clear, I don’t wish to excuse poor performance, I don’t believe any achievement gap is acceptable, but the belief that state-wide testing mandates will fix it is just not supported by the facts. If after 150 years of experimenting with just every kind of assessment there is, New York has not tested their way to equality, what rational reason remains to believe that tough exit exams are the medicine Connecticut needs?

An obvious rebuttal to my argument is to point out the fact that there are other statistics that show Connecticut trailing New York. But to reduce the debate to a battle of cherry picking obscures the greater truth, that neither New York nor Connecticut have closed their achievement gaps.

Moukawsher also wrote that, “the way educators are hired and fired isn’t sensibly linked to its value in teaching children.” He goes on to bemoan the fact that “Good teachers can’t be recognized and bad teachers can’t be removed.” This is a thinly veiled mandate to weaken due process protections for teachers and a mandate for merit pay. The problem is there is no research that shows that union busting or pay incentives can narrow achievement gaps.

On the other hand, it makes sense to assume that rooting out bad apples would have a positive effect, but I ask the judge to test his assumptions against the facts. Would it surprise him to learn that there already are thousands of American public schools where there’s no tenure, where administrators are allowed to hire and fire at will? They are called charter schools. Some of these schools even have the ability to effectively fire students, too, denying them admission or expelling them if they don’t perform well on tests.

If the judge’s theory about competition were correct charters should crush regular public schools, but they don’t. Despite having nearly infinite discretion to decide who is and isn’t in the building, and the ability for districts to dissolve the schools at will, thus far charter schools have not shown the capacity to close achievement gaps.

The best recent study of charters, a massive 2013 Stanford comparison across the 42 states where they exist “noted that while these gains are beneficial for charter students, as with the racial/ethnic analyses above these gains are not large enough to offset the differences between students in poverty and students who are not in poverty.”

I do not mean to disparage the important work done by my colleagues at charter schools, but there is just no data to support the conclusion that we can fill achievement gaps with pink slips and broken unions. In fact, a look at other countries like Finland indicates that the opposite might be the case.

Judge Moukawsher asserts that in the current system “good teachers can’t be recognized.” The fact is that there are dozens of non-monetary ways in which the state and local districts use to praise including the teacher of the year program. But I think his actual intention is to advocate for merit pay.

And yes, it is perfectly rational to think that those who do a good job should get paid more than those who do not. Unfortunately, rigorous studies of recent merit pay programs in New York, Nashville, and Texas by Vanderbilt University’s National Center for Performance Incentives has found that these strategies do not impact student performance, much less close achievement gaps.

A colleague of mine taught me about something called Campbell’s Law. It basically stipulates that the more social importance is put on a statistic, the more likely it is to be corrupted. The proof in the pudding comes from the Washington D.C. testing corruption scandal that occurred under the leadership of Michelle Rhee is the symbol for what can go wrong. As soon as you define merit, you immediately create incentives for people to cook the books to get the prize instead of actually doing the business of educating.

So why do so many of these strategies that rely on market forces not pan out in the classroom? The reality is that most of what works on Wall Street doesn’t transfer to School Street. I don’t think many teachers have ever thought, “gee, if only I made a extra few dollars per hour, I’d bring my A game to class today.” If I know anything about success in education, it’s that it’s built more on cooperation than competition between teachers, students, administrators, the community, and civic leaders.

I’m not saying that schools shouldn’t be held to account for their work, but the fact is that no school system anywhere has ever closed any achievement gaps by monkeying with teacher evaluations or other teacher incentives. Go ahead and look, but you won’t find any.

So as we enter another cycle of education reform, I ask that you along with other state leaders do more than simply look for policies that are rational. In my classes reasonable claims are not enough, students need evidence to earn credit.

Having taught through two previous waves of reform, one in 2002 and another in 2013, I saw thousands of work hours where administrators and teachers worked to bring their practices into statutory compliance with little to show for it. In the end, it was the kids who paid the price given with so much of their teachers’ energy consumed out of the classroom. Please, let’s not do that again.

Answers are out there. But to find them, you must resist the temptation to take short cuts. If we want smarter kids, we need to set the example and not just lift our policies out of a lobbyist’s binder or a cranky pundit’s latest screed. Please do the homework and look at the history of education reform both here and abroad. Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,

Randall Smith

Social studies teacher and debate coach, Joel Barlow High School

 

Asked about the critically important CCJEF v. Rell case, Malloy tells media he isn’t Governor Jodi Rell

It was another classic Wait, What? moment with Dannel Malloy at the helm.

When the CCJEF v. Rell school funding lawsuit was filed 11 years ago, Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy was a plaintiff in the case, one of a number of local elected officials who decried the fact that Connecticut’s system of school funding was unfair, inadequate and unconstitutional.

Then, Malloy become Connecticut’s governor in January 2011 and immediately did, “a 180.”  Instead of using his position to settle the lawsuit and develop a funding formula that would be fair and constitutional, Malloy lead the charge to dismiss, disrupt and upend the case that would have benefited the children, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Stamford and Connecticut’s other poorer cities and towns.

Malloy not only squandered the opportunity to develop a constitutionally adequate school funding system, he used his budget authority to make the state’s school funding programs even more unfair.

Last week came the initial trial ruling on the CCJEF v. Rell case.  Connecticut superior court judge went so far as to say that not only is Connecticut’s school funding system unconstitutional, it is irrational.

So will Malloy and his administration appeal the decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court or not?

In a press conference yesterday (Tuesday, September 13, 2016) Malloy ducked the all-important issue claiming that since his name was Dan Malloy and not Jodi Rell, it wasn’t his responsibility to recommend whether the state of Connecticut should or should not appeal the controversial decision.

Instead he told reporters to go talk to Attorney General George Jepsen, the very state official Malloy has worked so closely with in their effort to dismiss and destroy the CCJEF lawsuit.

The New Haven Independent captured Malloy’s interaction on the subject, reporting the following in a story entitled, Malloy: Ask Jepsen,

Don’t ask Dannel P. Malloy how Connecticut will respond to a judge’s landmark ruling ordering sweeping changes in the state’s education system. After all, his name’s not on the lawsuit.

So the governor said when pressed by reporters at an unrelated New Haven press conference Tuesday afternoon for his take on Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s 254-page ruling last week in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell.

The 11-year-old lawsuit sought fairer educational funding for poorer school districts.

Judge Moukawsher went further. He not only ordered the state to distribute its education aid to local cities and towns more rationally and fairly (though not necessarily to spend more money overall). He also ordered new standards for high school graduation, for distributing special-education aid, for evaluating teachers. And to present a plan to do all that in 180 days.

Malloy was mayor of Stamford when the coalition originally filed that suit. He in fact joined the coalition. He was a plaintiff.

Now he’s the governor — not “Rell,” aka Jodi Rell, who was governor at the time of the filing. Malloy is now in effect the defendant, not the plaintiff.

So, reporters asked: Will he direct the attorney general to appeal the ruling?

Malloy responded that it’s not his call. Technically, Attorney General George Jepsen will have to decide whether the state appeals the ruling. And Malloy, who usually prides himself as a driving force behind state policy, said he plans not to try to influence Jepsen’s decision.

[…]

Malloy said he agrees with much of what Judge Moukawsher wrote in his decision: “You know why I think he made very valid points? Because I’ve been making the same points for the past five years.” He also said he disagrees with some of the decision, particularly the timetable; given that some of the decisions involve the legislative process, he questioned whether the state can meet the 180-day deadline.

CT Mirror reporter Mark Pazniokas didn’t let Malloy off the hook. Following is a partial transcript of his follow-up questions and Malloy’s responses.

Malloy: The attorney general needs to do what the attorney general needs to do.

Pazniokas: The lawsuit, after all, is “CCJEF vs. Rell.” The attorney general’s office is charged with doing the defense. They are not the defendant. You in effect are.

Malloy: My name’s not Rell.

Pazniokas: But if you were elected a little bit earlier, “Malloy” would be the defendant. The State Department of Education is in effect the client …

Malloy: I’m not fighting you. I’m not trying to get away from giving you a true answer and a factual answer. It’s a very involved decision. If the attorney general believes that it needs clarification, that it needs final judgement status … I am telling you that I am in agreement with large portions of this decision. And particularly on those points that I have made for the past five years.

Pazniokas: I just want to be clear … You are saying it is entirely George Jepsen and his team, his decision to appeal? You are not going to express a view to the attorney general’s office about whether to appeal at this point?

Malloy: If this was a simpler decision, if it was written on five pages and made statements solely about funding or the distribution of funds, then maybe it wouldn’t even be necessary to even be considering appealing. What I’m telling you is I have enough confidence in the attorney general and his staff that they’ll make the right decision. And I will support that decision. …

The primary purpose as you understood and I understood it when I brought it, then I’m largely in agreement [with the decision]. I don’t know what else to tell you.

I’ve answered it. enough.

Pazniokas: Again, I want to be clear. My question didn’t suggest that you would dictate what the attorney general would do. What’ I’m asking is: So you’re not going to participate in a conversation with him about an admittedly very complex …

Malloy: … Listen. I’m not running from this. I’ll participate in any discussion the attorney general wants to have with me about this subject … I’m even acknowledging that it may have gone beyond the scope of the original proceedings as drafted, as represented in the pleadings. So that may lead people in a particular direction. But if you’re asking me about the core purpose of this lawsuit — and that is how we distribute money for education — I am largely in agreement.

Call it just another day in Malloy’s world of leadership and policy….

You can read and comment on the full New Haven Independent story at: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/malloy_ask_jepsen/